WASHINGTON, D.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) is dedicated to fostering a welcoming, diverse, inclusive and humanistic environment in every area of dental education—classrooms, clinics, laboratories, meeting/collaboration spaces, research, administrative offices and in our communities. On Sept. 22, 2020, Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping (EO) was issued. The EO prohibits federal agencies, contractors and grantees from providing employee training that asserts that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or the concept that “members of one race or sex cannot or should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.” While we agree with these two principles, the EO also prohibits workplace training programs by the federal government and federal grantees that are grounded in the research on unconscious bias, sexual harassment and anti-racism.
In recent months, Black Lives Matter, the Anti-Racism Movement and the COVID-19 pandemic have further magnified the effects that social determinants of health and other related disparities play on the health and well-being of vulnerable and historically underrepresented and marginalized populations. As health professions educators, we must acknowledge that our country’s painful history of bias and racial and gender discrimination—both conscious and unconscious—has played a role in the health and workplace inequities that plague our country today.
The fundamental purpose of diversity, equity and inclusion training programs is not to further divide us along racial or gender lines, but rather to create understanding and move us closer to becoming a society that respects and values our differences. While we recognize that racial sensitivity, unconscious bias, sexual harassment and other diversity training courses will not in and of themselves solve the problem of racial and gender inequity, these programs do encourage individuals to become increasingly aware of the neuroscience associated with unconscious bias. This awareness will foster change when it is coupled with knowledge and training in how to evaluate social institutions to develop solutions and strategies to promote health equity, cultural humility and empathy for those with whom we work and live. Self-awareness and compassionate care ultimately helps to create the inclusive excellence that we strive to achieve within dental education and the world.
Together, as we endeavor to repair the divisions and inequality within our country, ADEA believes that it is even more important and imperative that we ensure safe, welcoming, diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces. Diversity and inclusion training to create these types of welcoming and safe spaces is one critical way to cultivate self-reflection and maximize our journey along the cultural competence continuum. Therefore, ADEA remains unwavering in its commitment to providing and supporting training programs grounded in the sciences, health equity, public health and social science research. Additionally, as a health professions education association, we will endeavor through our training and outreach to remove barriers and overcome the challenges that have historically led to educational and health inequities within underrepresented and marginalized communities. We also call upon our colleagues not only within dental and other health professions education, but also within the broader society to reaffirm or make this same commitment.